Russell Huffman

Russell Huffman is Sports Editor for the Mineral Wells Index.

Hello, Mineral Wells!

A few short weeks ago I was cruising the World Wide Web pondering the idea of a work change when I came across a listing at the Texas Press Association from David May of the Mineral Wells Index seeking a sports editor.

It wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill listing for a sports editor as it called for the ability to shoot high-quality photographs and to continue the strong award-winning tradition Mineral Wells Index readers have come to expect from their community newspaper.

Then there was that mention of needing a background in sports broadcasting.

At last!

A chance to prove to my mother all those so-called “useless skills” I had learned could be combined into a single job – perhaps at the same desk might be a better description.

When I first picked up a 35mm camera, it was after several other “hobbies” where I spent a good deal of time and money only to lose interest. Mom might have even been right if it hadn’t been for a wrestling photo I took in Hanau, Germany (I was an Army brat) and the editor of the paper saw me developing it in the recreational photography lab.

He wanted to publish it! On the front page! I was going to be famous!

Hey, two out of three isn’t bad and I don’t think signing autographs is all that much fun anyway.

I was hooked on photography! I liked seeing my work in print. What I liked, even more, was seeing the reaction of the two athletes’ parents when they saw the picture in print.

A year later at Tarleton State University, I landed the job of photographer for the J-TAC newspaper, mainly because I knew how to develop the black-and-white film. It was only a couple months into working at the J-TAC that the sports editor quit in a huff, and I made the mistake of saying, “I can write better than that guy.”

I didn’t exactly live up to my brag, but with enough red ink and corrections, I started to learn. I also started appreciating being able to tell a good story about people and sports.

After college and an ROTC commission, there was some U.S. Army time, and when my armored tank turned into a desk involving logistics, my interest in the military faded away.

I made it back to the Cross Timbers area to sports editing for The Dublin Citizen, De Leon’s Monitor and De Leon Free Press as well as some freelance photography work for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, Abilene Reporter-News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Stephenville Empire-Tribune, and various other papers.

Oddly enough, one day a guy called from KCUB radio and asked if I would be interested in doing a short game recap via a telephone call on Friday nights. I agreed, and I called the station and talked about what I had seen happen on the field.

After that first call-in, I got another phone call, and the station owner and manager wanted to talk to me about my Friday night performance. The secretary who had placed the call was a friend of mine and mentioned there had been a meeting about my “brutally honest reporting.” The word “fired” had come up, and my new radio career was only three minutes long.

To my surprise, the owner was very pleased with my reporting (he fired the manager), and I hired on part-time for probably about the same amount of money as I could have made as a McDonald’s fry cook.

For many years I balanced both newspapering and broadcasting, and I also kept up the learning I mentioned earlier.

I learned many valuable lessons about community newspapering from people like Dublin’s Karen Wright, De Leon’s Charles Chupp and Stephenville’s Jessie Horton.

The most valuable lesson I have learned in journalism is your newspaper is the identity of your community. My sports reporting is going to reflect the pride that all of you have in your athletes and their teams.

For me to do that I am going to ask for your help in getting me the information you would like published.

I will always welcome story ideas, suggestions, gripes (form a line to the right and take a number), and guidance in helping to better cover sports in Mineral Wells. I even have a few ideas of my own I hope might work.

Coaches! I will be busy making the rounds and introducing myself. If you have a summer camp or project coming up, please contact me.

I look forward to meeting you all!

My email is sports@mineralwellsindex.com, and the Mineral Wells Index phone number is 940-325-4465. My cell phone number is 254-485-5236.

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